Byron Rail Bridge

Double Track Through Truss Bridge over Rock River
Byron, Ogle County, Illinois

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Name Byron Rail Bridge
Built By Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway
Contractor (1905 Spans) Unknown
Contractor (1929 Spans) American Bridge Company of New York
Currently Owned By Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad
Length 830 Feet Total, 170 Foot Spans
Width (Each Span) 1 Track
Height Above Ground 20 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type (Eastbound Span) Pratt Through Truss
Superstructure Type (Westbound Span) Warren Through Truss
Substructure Type (Eastbound Span) Concrete
Substructure Type (Westbound Span) Stone Masonry
Date Built (Eestbound Span) 1905
Date Built (Westbound Span) 1929
Traffic Count 6 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use, Eastbound Span Abandoned
MILW Bridge Number Z-312
Significance Regional Significance
Documentation Date March 2015
In 1861, the Northern Illinois Railroad began construction of a line that would run from Savanna, Illinois to Racine, Wisconsin, including a segment from Lannark to Kittredge, in Illinois.

In 1862, the line would be extended again to Savanna, on the Mississippi River.
The line would beconme part of the Western Union Railroad in 1865.

In 1875, the Chicago and Pacific Railroad would begin building west from Halsted Street in Chicago, and reach Byron, Illinois; seated on the Rock River.

By 1880, with the lines becoming heavily profitable the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway took over the lines, although allowing the railroads to operate as subsidiaries.

Also in 1880, the lines would be connected. A new piece of track connected Byron and Kittredge.
In addition, the railroad built a new bridge across the Mississippi River at Sabula, Iowa to connect to the empire in Iowa.

The railroads became fully owned by the Milwaukee Road in 1900, and double track work commenced from Chicago that year, and made it as far as Sabula by late 1905.
The railroad became known as the Chicago, Milwaukee St. Paul & Pacific in 1913, as the pacific expansion began to near completion.

The line became one of the most important for the Milwaukee Road, connecting Chicago to Elgin, Byron and Savannah. In addition, the line connected to Council Bluffs in Iowa, making a regional connection.

While much of the line is still intact, a part from Goose Island to Halsted Avenue in Chicago was removed in the 1970s.
Also in Chicago, the line from Ashland Avenue (near the Kennedy Expressway) to a junction with the main line to Saint Paul near Monticello Avenue became a trail in 2015, after abandonedment years later.

The Milwaukee Road disolved in 1985, merging with Soo Line, and eventually Canadian Pacific Railroad.
Canadian Pacific in turn sold the line to I&M Rail Link in 1997, which became the Iowa, Chicago & Eastern in 2002, and Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railway later that year.

The DM&E was purchased by Canadian Pacific in late 2008. The line is known as the Chicago Subdivision, and sees a fair traffic base.

Located in Byron, this large through truss bridge crosses the Rock River on a heavy skew.
The original bridge at this location was built in 1882, and consisted of a pin connected Pratt Through Truss. In 1897, a second track was added to the north on a new alignment using a similar bridge of five 160-foot spans.
In 1905, the original 1882 span had become too light for traffic, and was replaced with a bridge parallel to the 1897 span. As a result, the present southern (eastbound) spans were installed. These spans consisted of five heavily skewed 6-panel pin connected Pratt Through Trusses of similar design to the 1897 bridge. For the most part, these followed a standard Milwaukee Road design. The original 1882 bridge was then removed, and reused elsewhere. Two spans from this bridge are believed to still exist.
In 1928-29, the 1897 spans had become too light for traffic and were replaced with the present riveted Warren Through Trusses. Heavily built, these spans were designed without lacing, but instead had built up beams with simple plates. These spans consisted of nine panels and repeated the heavy skew. The 1897 spans were believed to have been reused elsewhere as well, where four are believed to still exist.
Today, the 1905 and 1929 spans are still in existence, although the 1905 spans have been taken out of service. The 1905 spans rest on concrete substructures while the 1929 spans rest on original 1897 substructures.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in good condition. Both spans appear to have little serious deterioration.

The author has ranked this bridge as being regionally significant, due to the unique truss designs, as well as the extensive history at this location.
The photo above is an overview with the eastbound spans in front. The photo below is details of the portal of the 1905 span.

Rock River Railroad Bridges
Upstream CN Rock River Bridge
Downstream DM&E Rock River Bridge

Detail Photos


Source Type


Build Date Milwaukee Road Archives at the Milwaukee Central Library
Contractor Railway Age, Volume 85
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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